First Hemolivia from southern Africa: reassigning chelonian Haemogregarina parvula Dias, 1953 (Adeleorina: Haemogregarinidae) to Hemolivia (Adeleorina: Karyolysidae)
To date, only a single species of Hemolivia, Hemolivia mauritanica (Sergent & Sergent, 1904), has been described from African terrestrial tortoises. Although various haemogregarines have been described from southern African terrapins and tortoises, including species from the genus Haemogregarina and one from the genus Hepatozoon, no species of Hemolivia have been identified previously from southern Africa. Since its morphological redescription, the taxonomic placement of one of these species, Haemogregarina parvula Dias, 1953, was in doubt. Hence, research was undertaken to resolve the true taxonomic position of this haemogregarine. Blood smears from nine wild tortoises of two species, Stigmochelys pardalis and Kinixys zombensis, from South Africa were screened, with the focus on H. parvula. Parasite DNA was extracted from ethanol-preserved blood samples, and fragments of the 18S rDNA gene were amplified by PCR using the primer sets HepF300/HepR900 and 4558/2733. Maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony analyses of 18S rDNA sequences showed that Haemogregarina parvula formed a monophyletic clade with species of Hemolivia within the Hepatozoon clade, not with species of Haemogregarina. It is thus recommended that this haemogregarine be reassigned to the genus Hemolivia, rendering Hemolivia parvula (Dias, 1953) the first species of the genus recorded from southern African tortoises.
Keywords: 18S rDNA, adeleorid phylogeny, apicomplexan haemoparasite, blood parasite taxonomy, South Africa, tortoise